My Identity is Just Words

Dylan once told me that I shouldn’t place so much emphasis on words. That I am who I want to be. That I can identify however I want, that ‘lesbian’ can mean whatever I want it to. After mulling this over for some time I then asked them why, if words are meaningless and you can be who you want, Dylan was contemplating changing their pronoun to ‘they’. Why not keep it as ‘she’ for convenience and ease of speech if it doesn’t mean anything? Dylan would know who she/they are on the inside, isn’t that all that matters? I think it was at this point that Dylan suddenly really understood my attachment to my words and why it was affecting me.

I know that for me I never thought about my identity specifically until large parts of myself seemed in jeopardy as a reflection of my relationship as my partner transitioned.
Looking back I realise that coming out as a lesbian was definitely a huge step forward in recognising my identity as I suddenly felt so much more comfortable, and like I had finally found my community in the strong gay and lesbian friends that I made. I never actively thought about this however, it just happened and it felt right.

When Dylan came out as gender neutral I suddenly realised how much these identity related words really meant to me. Lesbian. A woman who loves women. Me. I am still the same and this identity still fits me but I felt that All of this was compromised by Dylan’s new found sense of identity. That whilst they came into their own, I lost me in their reflection. As Dylan transitioned into a new word that fit them more accurately, I felt forcibly pushed into a new identity that certainly did not fit me. I struggled even more because there wasn’t even a word for this new identity. If I am a woman dating a gender neutral human then what am I? What word fits me? What category do I slot into? What community is mine? I felt there was no answer and I was extremely saddened by this, and felt very alone. To be totally honest it is something that I still  struggle with.

Other words that I feel I’ve lost are wife and mother. Not for me of course, but for my potential future family. Again, until they were no longer relevant I didn’t realise how much emphasis I placed on my future as part of a ‘2 mum family’ with my ‘wife’. This is where I saw myself fitting, how I thought I would identify myself within the myriad of different family structures, how I envisioned fitting into a community. I cried when I realised that I would not be able to use wife in the future- how will I readily identify that I am married to my partner, and not just in a long term relationship? I have no answers to this and still feel saddened that all of my friends will be able to use these words so easily, without a second thought, and yet I will not have them.

Whilst I recognise that identity is what you make it, and that I can still call myself a lesbian if that is how I feel, I also have a deep seated sense of being a fake. If I’m not dating a woman then can I truly call myself a lesbian? Well, in reality I can do whatever I like, but I feel like society (whoever that is, since it’s certainly not my friends and family!) will judge me as no longer a real and valid lesbian. Like I am somehow less than.  I’m not sure if this says more about me or about societal emphasis on labelling.

When I have cried to friends and family about my loss of ‘lesbian relationship’ and ‘same sex family’  their response has been ‘but Emma, you will have a healthy relationship and a happy family, and that’s the important part.’ I obviously agree. I understand their point and I would have said the same to anyone else who asked me before I found myself in this situation. I tell myself this now as well because I know that I am one of the lucky ones. I have a beautiful, intelligent, funny, supportive and kind partner and we love each other. Whilst this will always remain a true fact it does not negate the fact that my sense of self is not as strong and confident as it once was.

Whilst I believe my grievances are real and I have felt my loss of these words acutely I have come to realise the importance in accepting that this is my experience and mine alone. This new identity that I am wearing may be invisible to many around me, however I have felt it. It is not the way others view me and my identity has not necessarily shifted in the eyes of my friends, family, or even  the LGBTI community. But it has to me.

In this way I know that once I have rebuilt my own sense of conviction that my identity is valid I will be once again confident and comfortable in myself. Whilst I work on this, I can at least sit comfortably in the knowledge that although my words are a little confused, I am one of the lucky ones.

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12 thoughts on “My Identity is Just Words

  1. Gail Kennedy says:

    Great read and insight Emma. In a World that is so harsh, and filled with little boxes. Thank goodness I have always felt the need to operate outside the square and the circle. Human beings were created before any boxes, and people opinions are not required nor sought. Whilst respectd!
    Dylan is the same beautiful gifted Soul that I gave birth too almost 31 years ago.
    Finding happiness comes in many different places. None more than the heart.

    Like

  2. Dani says:

    In a world filled with fear of the unknown it is brave souls like you and your partner who remind us these labels of segregation are more harmful than good. Be you, love whom ever you want, love with passion, and be happy with acts of kindness. You don’t know me and I don’t know you, however your words have touched my heart and this connection is bigger than any man made group I’ve been isolated to.

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    1. shetheyblog says:

      Thank you so much for your heartfelt and beautiful words. They honestly mean so much to me and make me believe even more passionately in this blog. I hope that many more people feel the way that you do about my posts, and have gotten as much out of reading them as I have out of writing them!

      Like

  3. Mary says:

    No matter what your Partner is still the love of your life and you both have a life you share together no matter what your identity is.
    That must have been the hardest decision anyone could ever make, I know when I came out it was such a struggle for me to except that I am a lesbian let alone have to deal with the expectations of my family.
    I say be who you are and love who you are, you only have one life to live and you gotta live it right!!!!! Love is love no matter what!
    Thank you for being brave enough to share with everyone!

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    1. shetheyblog says:

      Thanks so much Mary. It’s definitely been a journey but this blog has been such a great outlet and learning experience. Hearing other people receive it in such a positive way has been extremely inspiring to me also, and has meant so much to me. Thank you!

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  4. Sarah Mills - Artist says:

    I often think of these ‘words’ or terms or whatever they are, too. I, personally, don’t believe in categories. Lesbian, gay, pan sexual, heterosexual – they’re all so restrictive and they aren’t flexible when it comes to situations like this. I believe love is love is love, it doesn’t matter the age, gender, general sexual orientation of the two people involved, as a soul is a soul and if it’s true love by both parties then it’s the soul that’s connected, not the societal standards of the category each person fits into. ..if that makes any sense at all.

    I’m iust curious, Emma, as it is also something I have thought about once or twice… How do you feel emotionally about your partner transitioning knowing that, presumably Dylan is your soul mate, Dylan is going to be, look, and act like a slightly different person to the one you fell in love with? Can my theory of soul love transcend the physical and will your connection remain the same, do you think? Or do you feel you will struggle a bit emotionally as the physical body changes? Will you feel that tugging, heavy, aching feeling in your chest and heart as you feel sad and worried Dylan will change out of what you fell in love with and does your need to fit the lesbian category affect this, do you think?

    Although I would love to read your answers, I completely understand if they are too personal to share on this public forum, but if you’re happy too, then fabulous!

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    1. shetheyblog says:

      Hi Sarah,
      Thanks so much for your comments. It’s great to hear what other people think, and to have so much support in favour of love and diversity!

      I’m absolutely open to answering questions, although they are such big questions to think about and answer!

      I have it relatively easy in relation to the changes you are talking about, I think because Dylan’s changes are largely non-physiological. Dylan won’t be taking hormones, but will be having some surgical changes (I’ll let Dylan talk about that herself, I am interviewing her for the blog in the next few weeks!). In that way, I don’t have to consider personality change beyond the added confidence that comes from finally being your authentic self. In terms of the change of body I was initially really worried, and felt especially uncomfortable with the idea of a surgeon chopping up parts of a loved ones body, but at the end of the day it isn’t much different to losing/putting on weight.

      I have worried that Dylan will suddenly feel so confident that she will want to test out her new self on others or something, but they have assured me this won’t happen. At the end of the day you never know what will happen in a relationship and just have to strive for individual and collective happiness in the moment.

      I have thought about whether I would have been able to stay with Dylan had she been ftm transgender and I am unsure. I would love to say a definite yes, and I know that I would definitely give it a shot, but I’m not sure if it would work out in the end. It would depend on Dylan’s interpretation of a man as to whether we would remain attracted emotionally and physically to each other and still be compatible.

      So in answer to your question, I’m not 100% sure whether soul love would trump everything else, but I would certainly try to let it. And in our current circumstances it definitely has.

      Em 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jenn H. says:

    Hello, friend! I got here via the link you posted on FB when talking about the “My Wife is Genderqueer” article. I’m in a similar situation: my partner of ten years (married 3) changed to a masculine name about six months ago and, as a friend memorably put it, “said f*** it and took a sharp left turn off the binary.”

    I identify as pan, so there was never any questioning if my of my own identity. But EVERYTHING else seemed to be fair game for my anxiety, from “how do we explain to the niblings that ‘Auntie A—‘ isn’t a girl” (we let my mother field that one) to “what if I say the wrong name in bed?” (They admitted they didn’t notice when I apologized)

    Anyway, this is about a mile long and probably TMI, sorry. I just wanted to let you know that you aren’t alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. shetheyblog says:

      Thanks for your words of support and solidarity Jenn! It’s so great to hear other people’s stories, and to know I’m not the only one questioning everything.
      I hope that you and your partner are very happy and going strong, despite all the changes 🙂
      Em

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  6. K says:

    Hi Emma,

    First, I just want to thank you for your writing – I’m going to share it with my spouse who is feeling a lot of the same things you are!
    And then I just want to raise up the word “spouse”!
    As the non-binary half of our relationship, I could still use “husband”, but I instead choose to normalize using spouse, because it is a lovely and useful word, and I really don’t care what gender people’s partners are anyway. I also see it as a way to dismantle a little bit of the strangle hold that binary gender has on social relationships and interactions. I also love that it carries the root meaning of espouse, as in choose, and I like the reminder that I freely chose my spouse because of his many wonderful qualities and that I get to go on choosing him every day. Spouse! Applies to every married person! I have now written spouse so many times that it looks misspelled.
    Thanks again for the blog!
    K

    Like

    1. shetheyblog says:

      Hi K,

      Thanks so much for your kind comments.

      I would love to hear from your spouse about their thoughts/struggles with identity- it’s such a huge minefield and one that isn’t talked about enough.
      I hope that some of my words resonate with them – it’s nice to feel like you aren’t alone!

      And I love and really appreciate your comments about the term ‘spouse’. They really made me smile. I think moving forward spouse will definitely become part of our regular vocab.

      Thanks for the inspiration!

      Emma x

      Like

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